2011 MINK League Top 10 Prospects
The St. Joseph Mustangs cruised to the North Division title for the second straight season with a league-best 32-10 record, while the Nevada Griffons (25-17) narrowly edged out the Sedalia Bombers in the South Division. The Mustangs swept the Griffons 2-0 in the championship series with the help of a no-hitter from Adam Maddox in the clincher to secure the title.
1. Nick Petree, rhp, Sedalia (So., Missouri State)
After taking a redshirt year to recover from Tommy John surgery, Petree flourished in his freshman season this spring, going 9-2, 2.81 in 96 innings, while limiting opponents to a .236 average. His success translated to the MINK League, where he compiled a microscopic 0.27 ERA and struck out 33 batters in 26 innings. His two-seam fastball generally sits at 87-90 mph, but he locates it well and gets plenty of movement. He complements his fastball with three other solid offerings: a cutter, slider and changeup. He commands both sides of the plate with all of his pitches and can throw any of them for strikes in any count. Petree turned 21 in July, so he will be a draft-eligible sophomore following the 2012 season.
2. Mark Robinette, rhp, St. Joseph (Jr., Oklahoma State)
Robinette spent the last two years at Northeast Texas CC, but his two-way talent earned him a spot with Oklahoma State this fall. He hit .338 in the MINK and will provide the Cowboys with offensive value, but his true calling is as a pitcher. Normally a starter, he was used as a reliever this summer to conserve his arm, and he posted a 1.38 ERA with 23 strikeouts in 17 innings. His fastball is consistently 92-94 mph but has been clocked as high as 96. He also throws a slider, cutter and changeup, all of which have potential to become at least average. Like Petree, he has shown a willingness to throw all of his pitches in any count, though his command is fringy at best. He will have to improve his stamina if he is to start in the pros, but that doesn't appear to be a major hurdle.
3. Brent Seifert, 3b, St. Joseph (Sr., Missouri State)
Seifert hit .289/.349/.483 this spring and continued his good work in the MINK, hitting .372 with five homers for the league's best team. Seifert's best tool is his average power to all fields, but he has also shown an ability to hit for a good average. He will likely move to second base in pro ball, as he lacks the arm for third base, but his bat profiles much better there, anyway. Apart from his arm, he is an above-average defender and has plenty of range to make a successful transition to second.
4. Matt Skipper, 1b, Sedalia (Jr., Embry-Riddle, Fla.)
The 6-foot-9, 220-pound Skipper was slated to play under the tutelage of Tony Gwynn at San Diego State, but Tommy John surgery forced him to miss the college season and transfer to NAIA Embry-Riddle. He didn't swing a bat until February this season, but showed no rust this summer, hitting .402/.497/.638 for Sedalia. Skipper has good pop, specifically to the gaps, and should be able to hit for at least average power in pro ball. He has excellent plate discipline and rarely swings at pitches out of the zone, which should translate to good on-base ability. He's occasionally struggled in the past to hit breaking balls, but has shown improvement in that regard. He combines athleticism with his huge size, making him a solid defender at first.
5. Zach Esquerra, of, Chillicothe (So., California Baptist)
It's easy to glean Esquerra's top tool just by looking over his stat sheet. He hit 17 homers and slugged a crisp .637 in his freshman campaign, and followed that with another seven long balls this summer. Combine his current power with his 6-foot-4, 208-pound body that still has room to fill out, and it's clear why MINK coaches think Esquerra has the ability to hit for power in the professional ranks. He does struggle hitting breaking balls, which leads to a tendency to strike out, potentially limiting his on-base capabilities in the future. He still needs to improve defensively, but he has the arm and athleticism to end up being an adequate right fielder.
6. Aaron Baker, rhp, Sedalia (Jr., Central Missouri)
Baker flourished in the back end of the bullpen for Division II power Central Missouri this season, but was moved to a starting role for Sedalia. He has a decent fastball and changeup, but his best pitch is his cutter, which is already a plus offering. His arm action is loose and he has good command of the zone. Given his 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame, it's hard to not think of him as a potential as a starter in pro ball, though that likely depends on whether or not he can develop a breaking ball. Regardless, he could become a solid setup man.
7. Will Landsheft, rhp, Sedalia (So., Drury, Mo.)
As a freshman, Landsheft ranked sixth in the national Division II ranks in strikeouts per nine innings with 11.91, for a total of 86 in 65 innings. The trend carried into the MINK, where he fanned 46 in 42 innings and posted a 2.00 ERA. His fastball sat at 85-87 mph in high school, but has already jumped up to 89-91, which hints at a potential further increase in future velocity. He complements his fastball with a quality curveball that has excellent 12-to-6 downward action. Control is an issue for him at times, as he walked roughly five batters per nine innings combined between the spring and summer. Exactly how good of a pro player he ends up being likely depends on whether or not he can eventually cut down on the walks.
8. Kraig Kelley, c, Chillicothe (So., Central Arkansas)
Drafted out of high school in the 47th round by San Diego in 2010, Kelley's greatest strength is his catch-and-throw ability from behind the dish. He has outstanding footwork, contributing to his excellent POP times, which average about 1.85 to 1.9 seconds, but he has been timed as quick as 1.7 seconds. As a pure receiver, Kelley still needs some polishing, but he shows plenty of promise in that area as well. Offensively, Kelley is very much a work in progress. His stats were underwhelming as a high schooler and he hit just .200 with no homers in the MINK this summer. However, Kelley is transferring from Oklahoma Wesleyan and will sit out this year, which will allow him to focus on adding some muscle and improving his offense.
9. Jeff Roy, of, St. Joseph (So., Rhode Island)
Roy's best tool is speed, though you wouldn't necessarily know it by looking at his stolen base totals. The 5-foot-9 outfielder stole nine bases in 12 attempts during his freshman season, then stole three bases in four tries this summer—numbers that don't reveal how fast he truly is. The 13 bunt singles Roy compiled this spring, however, are a better indicator of his plus speed. Roy hit .345/.411/.476 from the left side in 145 at-bats this spring, and he has a chance to become an average hitter in pro ball. MINK managers believe he has a chance to develop some power despite his smallish build, though he hasn't shown that ability yet. Defensively, he has the range to play center and has a plus arm.
10. Peter Barrows, of, Nevada (SIGNED: Wichita Wingnuts)
Barrows hit .353/.455/.516 this spring as a senior at Division II Bridgeport (Conn.), but even that wasn't enough to get the 6-foot-4 outfielder drafted. So he went to the MINK, where he led the league in both hitting (.404) and homers (8), then signed with the independent Wichita Wingnuts of the American Association. He combines good strike zone discipline and batting average potential with a reasonable chance to develop average professional pop. He has solid athleticism and is an adequate defender at the corner outfield positions. He is limited to a corner, but his bat would profile better in the middle of the diamond. Barrows hit .292 with three homers in his 96 at-bats with Wichita, and it wouldn't be a surprise if a major league team soon signed him to a free-agent deal.